Gas price increase will remain for now

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Information Minister Melford Nicholas (file photo)
Information Minister Melford Nicholas (file photo)
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By Makeida Antonio

[email protected]

Recently increased prices at petrol stations across Antigua and Barbuda will remain in place for the time being.

Five weeks ago, Cabinet indicated that it would, in 30 days, consider reducing the current $15.70 per gallon of gas back to the former $12.50 rate that consumers were paying before the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February. Prices for both gas and diesel were increased locally on March 15.

Cabinet spokesperson Melford Nicholas said yesterday that the government has not yet reached the review stage and emphasised why the European conflict would make it difficult to subsidise fuel costs for all residents at this time.

“The government did indicate from the beginning that we were not going to be able to subsidise the fuel for individuals. When the prices were moving at a marginal rate, we had sufficient margin that we could keep the prices stable and absorb the marginal increases that would happen with the usual fluctuations in prices,” he explained.

“But the big jump that took place as a result of the hike in fuel prices globally because of the Russia-Ukraine crisis made it infeasible for us to not only absorb the shock and impact of that, but to move to the level where we would be paying more than we will be receiving and in which case it would turn out that we would be subsidising fuel for every motorised vehicle, everyone that uses fuel,” Nicholas told Thursday’s post-Cabinet press briefing.

He said the government had considered keeping prices at the previously fixed price but realised that it would be facing deficits. He said the next date for price review would follow the government’s 30-day fuel procurement cycle from the international market.

“The commitment that we had made is that once the price moves back in the opposite direction in terms of a reduction, we would certainly move to pass those reductions to the consumers. We’re not at that stage yet. I don’t think we had an indication yesterday as to the next delivery date of fuel,” he indicated.

Nicholas added that the government purchases fuel from the international markets on a 30-day cycle and the next delivery date is an insight to be given by the West Indies Oil Company (WIOC) CEO.

Observer contacted WIOC’s CEO Gregory Georges for a comment on the matter, but he declined. Meanwhile, Nicholas took the opportunity to remind registered fishermen, bus drivers and taxi operators of the government’s initiative to extend a 25 percent fuel subsidy to them, which took effect on March 18.

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